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CHAPTER 26
The Transition

V. Where Sin Has Left

 25 Forgiveness is this world's equivalent of Heaven's justice. It translates the world of sin into a simple world where justice can be reflected from beyond the gate behind which total lack of limits lies. Nothing in boundless love could need forgiveness. And what is charity within the world gives way to simple justice past the gate that opens into Heaven. No one forgives unless he has believed in sin and still believes that he has much to be forgiven. Forgiveness thus becomes the means by which he learns he has done nothing to forgive. Forgiveness always rests upon the one who offers it until he sees himself as needing it no more. And thus is he returned to his real function of creating, which his forgiveness offers him again.

26 Forgiveness turns the world of sin into a world of glory, wonderful to see. Each flower shines in light, and every bird sings of the joy of Heaven. There is no sadness, and there is no parting here, for everything is totally forgiven. And what has been forgiven must join, for nothing stands between to keep them separate and apart. The sinless must perceive that they are one, for nothing stands between to push the other off. And in the space which sin left vacant do they join as one, in gladness recognizing what is part of them has not been kept apart and separate.

27 The holy place on which you stand is but the space that sin has left. And here you see the face of Christ arising in its place. Who could behold the face of Christ and not recall His Father as He really is? Who could fear love and stand upon the ground where sin has left a place for Heaven's altar to rise and tower far above the world and reach beyond the universe to touch the heart of all creation? What is Heaven but a song of gratitude and love and praise by everything created to the Source of its creation? The holiest of altars is set where once sin was believed to be. And here does every light of heaven come to be rekindled and increased in joy. For here is what was lost restored to them and all their radiance made whole again.

28 Forgiveness brings no little miracles to lay before the gate of Heaven. Here the Son of God Himself comes to receive each gift that brings him nearer to his home. Not one is lost, and none is cherished more than any other. Each reminds him of His Father's love as surely as the rest. And each one teaches him that what he feared he loves the most. What but a miracle could change his mind, so that he understands that love cannot be feared? What other miracle is there but this? And what else need there be to make the space between you disappear?

29 Where sin once was perceived will rise a world which will become an altar to the truth, and you will join the lights of Heaven there and sing their song of gratitude and praise. And as they come to you to be complete, so will you go with them. For no one hears the song of Heaven and remains without a voice that adds its power to the song and makes it sweeter still. And each one joins the singing at the altar which was raised within the tiny spot that sin proclaimed to be its own. And what was tiny then has soared into a magnitude of song in which the universe has joined with but a single voice. This tiny spot of sin that stands between you still is holding back the happy opening of Heaven's gate. How little is the hindrance which withholds the wealth of Heaven from you! And how great will be the joy in Heaven when you join the mighty chorus to the love of God!

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CHAPTER 26
The Transition

VI. The Little Hindrance

 30 A little hindrance can seem large indeed to those who do not understand that miracles are all the same. Yet teaching that is what this course is for . This is its only purpose, for only that is all there is to learn. And you can learn it many different ways. All learning is a help or hindrance to the gate of Heaven. Nothing in between is possible. There are two teachers only, who point in different ways. And you will go along the way your chosen teacher leads. There are but two directions you can take while time remains and choice is meaningful. For never will another road be made except the way to Heaven. You but choose whether to go toward Heaven or away to nowhere. There is nothing else to choose.

31 Nothing is ever lost but time, which in the end is [nothing. It is] but a little hindrance to eternity, quite meaningless to the real Teacher of the world. Yet since you do believe in [its reality], why should you waste it going nowhere when it can be used to reach a goal as high as learning can achieve? Think not the way to Heaven's gate is difficult at all. Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding each other's hand and keeping step to Heaven's song, is difficult to do. But it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road which leads to nothing and which has no purpose.

32 God gave His Teacher to replace the one you made, not to conflict with it. And what He would replace has been replaced. Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time passed and everything exactly as it was before the way to nothingness was made. The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them within that one mistake, held also the correction for that one and all of them that came within the first. And in that tiny instant time was gone, for that was all it ever was. What God gave answer to is answered and is gone.

33 To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past. Each thing you look upon you saw but for an instant, long ago before its unreality gave way to truth. Not one illusion still remains unanswered in your mind. Uncertainty was brought to certainty so long ago that it is hard indeed to hold it to your heart as if it were before you still.

34 The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come. What disappeared too quickly to affect the simple knowledge of the Son of God can hardly still be there for you to choose to be your teacher. Only in the past—an ancient past, too short to make a world in answer to creation—did this world appear to rise. So very long ago, for such a tiny interval of time that not one note in Heaven's song was missed.

35 Yet in each unforgiving act or thought, in every judgment, and in all belief in sin, is that one instant still called back, as if it could be made again in time. You keep an ancient memory before your eyes. And he who lives in memories alone is unaware of where he is.

36 [Forgiveness is the great release from time. It is the key to learning that the past is over. Madness speaks no more. There is no other teacher and no other way. For what has been undone no longer is. And who can stand upon a distant shore and dream himself across an ocean to a place and time that have long since gone by? How real a hindrance can this dream be to where he really is ? For this is fact and does not change whatever dreams he has. Yet can he still imagine he is elsewhere and in another time. In the extreme, he can delude himself that this is true and pass from mere imagining into belief and into madness, quite convinced that where he would prefer to be, he is .]

37 Is this a hindrance to the place whereon he stands? Is any echo from the past that he may hear a fact in what is there to hear where he is now? And how much can his own delusions about time and place affect a change in where he really is? The unforgiven is a voice that calls out from a past forever more gone by. And everything which points to it as real is but a wish that what is gone could be made real again and seen as here and now in place of what is really now and here. Is this a hindrance to the truth the past is gone and cannot be returned to you? And do you want that fearful instant kept, when Heaven seemed to disappear and God was feared and made a symbol of your hate?

38 Forget the time of terror that has been so long ago corrected and undone. Can sin withstand the Will of God? Can it be up to you to see the past and put it in the present? You can not go back. And everything that points the way in the direction of the past but sets you on a mission whose accomplishment can only be unreal. Such is the justice your ever-loving Father has ensured must come to you. And from your own unfairness to yourself has He protected you. You cannot lose your way because there is no way but His and nowhere can you go except to Him.

39 Would God allow His Son to lose his way along a road long since a memory of time gone by? [This course will teach you only what is now.] A dreadful instant in a distant past, now perfectly corrected, is of no concern nor value. Let the dead and gone be peacefully forgotten. Resurrection has come to take its place. And now you are a part of resurrection, not of death. No past illusions have the power to keep you in a place of death, a vault God's Son entered an instant, to be instantly restored unto His Father's perfect Love. And how can he be kept in chains long since removed and gone forever from his mind?

40 The Son that God created is as free as God created him. He was reborn the instant that he chose to die instead of live. And will you not forgive him now because he made an error in the past that God remembers not and is not there? Now you are shifting back and forth between the past and present. Sometimes the past seems real, as if it were the present. Voices from the past are heard and then are doubted. You are like to one who still hallucinates but lacks conviction in what he perceives. This is the borderland between the worlds, the bridge between the past and present. Here the shadow of the past remains, but still a present light is dimly recognized. Once it is seen, this light can never be forgotten. It must draw you from the past into the present, where you really are .

41 The shadow voices do not change the laws of time or of eternity. They come from what is past and gone and hinder not the true existence of the here and now. The real world is the second part of the hallucination time and death are real and have existence which can be perceived. This terrible illusion was denied in but the time it took for God to give His answer to illusion for all time and every circumstance. And then it was no more, to be experienced as there.

42 Each day and every minute in each day and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror was replaced by love. And so you die each day to live again until you cross the gap between past and present, which is not a gap at all. Such is each life—a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago, which cannot be relived. And all of time is but the mad belief that what is over is still here and now.

43 Forgive the past and let it go, for it is gone. You stand no longer on the ground that lies between the worlds. You have gone on and reached the world that lies at Heaven's gate. There is no hindrance to the Will of God nor any need that you repeat again a journey that was over long ago. Look gently on each other and behold the world in which perception of your hate has been transformed into a world of love.



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Part II
What is the Christ?

1 Christ is God's Son as He created Him. He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another and with God as well. He is the Thought Which still abides within the Mind That is His Source. He has not left His holy home nor lost the innocence in which He was created. He abides unchanged forever in the Mind of God.

2 Christ is the link that keeps you one with God and guarantees that separation is no more than an illusion of despair. For hope forever will abide in Him. Your mind is part of His and His of yours. He is the part in which God's Answer lies, where all decisions are already made and dreams are over. He remains untouched by anything the body's eyes perceive. For though in Him His Father placed the means for your salvation, yet does He remain the Self Who, like His Father, knows no sin.

3 Home of the Holy Spirit and at home in God alone, does Christ remain at peace within the Heaven of your holy mind. This is the only part of you that has reality in truth. The rest is dreams. Yet will these dreams be given unto Christ to fade before His glory and reveal your holy Self, the Christ, to you at last.

4 The Holy Spirit reaches from the Christ in you to all your dreams and bids them come to Him to be translated into truth. He will exchange them for the final dream which God appointed as the end of dreams. For when forgiveness rests upon the world and peace has come to every Son of God, what could remain to keep things separate, for what remains to see except Christ's face?

5 And how long will this holy face be seen, when it is but the symbol that the time for learning now is over and the goal of the Atonement has been reached at last? So therefore let us seek to find Christ's face and look on nothing else. As we behold His glory will we know we have no need of learning or perception or of time, or anything except the holy Self, the Christ Whom God created as His Son.

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Lesson 280
What limits can I lay upon God's Son?

1 Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father's Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless and like Himself in freedom and in love?

2 Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 280
What limits can I lay upon God's Son?

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
There are many references to honor in the Course. I remember how it first came to me many years ago when I was at a retreat on forgiveness in Sedona. While I was very drawn to the words of the Course in those early years, my understanding of it was very limited. While many people in the group had tons of questions over the three days, I said nothing, feeling somewhat intimidated by all the wisdom in the room. At the end of the workshop, there was an opportunity given for only one last comment. Many were still clamoring to speak and now I was among them. I felt this very strong compulsion to make a point and, as it happened, I was the one called on for the final comment.
 
The words that came out of my mouth sounded like nothing I would have ever said. They clearly did not come from me, Sarah. I expressed deep, heartfelt gratitude to Robert and Allan, who had been doing the teaching, but the words coming from me were not my words. It felt like a Presence speaking through me. While I heard myself speaking them, they did not feel like my own words. What struck me most in retrospect was my use of the word "honor." I had never used this word in relation to anyone before. It is a word that communicates deep respect and extremely high regard. What was expressed seemed to arise without any conscious thought on my part. Not surprisingly, it struck an emotional chord in the presenters and really touched them. It was a deeply transformative moment all around and an affirmation of Something in me that was not of me.
 
Later, I was reading the Text and came across this phrase: "Honor is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them." (T.3.I.6.3) (ACIM OE T.3.III.24) Reading those words in the context of my experience left me speechless. Jesus also says in this section, "Innocence is incapable of sacrificing anything, because the innocent mind has everything and strives only to protect its wholeness." (T.3.I.6.1) (ACIM OE T.3.III.24) "It cannot project." (T.3.I.6.2) (ACIM OE T.3. III.24 different wording ) All it can do, he says, is "honor other minds, because honor is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them." (T.3.I.6.3) (ACIM OE T.3.III.24) The words literally jumped off the page. I was quite new to the course, and, like all of us in the early stages, I needed assurance that there was Something in me beyond my current range of understanding; so, I was very grateful for this affirmation of Presence.
 
"Let His understanding of the miracle be enough for you, and do not turn away from all the witnesses that He has given you to His reality." (T.16.II.5.6) (ACIM OE T.16.III.15)
 
"A better and far more helpful way to think of miracles is this: You do not understand them, either in part or in whole. Yet they have been done through you. Therefore your understanding cannot be necessary. Yet it is still impossible to accomplish what you do not understand. And so there must be Something in you that does understand." (T.16.II.2.4-8) (ACIM OE T.16.III.11)
There are many more references in how to see our brothers and the honor we should bestow on them. In Chapter 7, we read, "Only honor is a fitting gift for those whom God Himself created worthy of honor and whom He honors. Give them the appreciation God accords them always, because they are His beloved Sons in whom He is well pleased." (T.7.VII.6.1-2) (ACIM OE T.7.VIII.76) Later in this section, Jesus tells us that there is One Teacher in all minds, and "He always teaches you the inestimable worth of every Son of God, teaching it with infinite patience born of the infinite Love for which He speaks. Every attack is a call for His patience, since His patience can translate attack into blessing. Those who attack do not know they are blessed. They attack because they believe they are deprived."  (T.7.VII.7.3-6) (ACIM OE T.7.VIII.77)
 
It seems this is the Lesson given me right now because I need so much to remember the true value of my brother. This Lesson reminds me today to not deny anyone the limitless freedom in which they were created or I deny my own inestimable value. This Lesson is an excellent reminder for me that my expectations of others, and the comparisons and judgments I make, lay limits on my brothers rather than giving them the honor due them because of who they are.
 
Today, I am called upon to release my opinions of anyone who comes to my mind and to release the comparisons I make with anyone. I am also called upon to recognize any feelings of superiority and specialness that I carry about who I think I am. When we make comparisons and see differences with our brothers, we are setting limits on them, and thus we limit ourselves. I find myself making comments about what someone is saying on TV, for example, and in that criticism, I lose sight of the truth of who that person really is and thus who I really am. I am seeing myself as better and smarter. I am more special, and I lose sight of the fact that we are truly all the same. We share the same Spirit and the same ego characteristics, with variations only in the storyline and characters in our scripts. No one has left the Father's Mind except in illusions. We are all called to recognize the Christ in everyone we meet and to make every encounter a holy one so we can know the truth about ourselves. Thus, we give honor to all of our brothers and sisters with no exception.
 
"Specialness is the great dictator of the wrong decisions. Here is the grand illusion of what you are and what your brother is. And here is what must make the body dear and worth preserving. Specialness must be defended. Illusions can attack it, and they do. For what your brother must become to keep your specialness is an illusion. He who is 'worse' than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat. For specialness is triumph, and its victory is his defeat and shame. How can he live, with all your sins upon him? And who must be his conqueror but you?" (T.24.I.5.1-10) (ACIM OE T.24.II.7)
 
This is another reminder of how we are just seeing our own lacks, unworthiness, and limitations in our brothers and sisters when we criticize them. Their limitations certainly may look different than our own, but the content is the same. We will not know our own unlimited Self when we project our own self-attacking thoughts onto others and make them responsible for how we feel. We have a propensity to fix others, to find fault, and to see ourselves as superior and special. We can even see our superiority and specialness in our victimhood and frailty because we believe no one can suffer like we do. To see our brothers and sisters with the honor due them, we need to take responsibility for our projections and forgive our limitations so we can learn to see with vision and recognize the Christ in everyone.
 
You may be thinking, "I do not feel superior. In fact, I feel that others are better than me. I don't feel special at all." Yet Jesus says that the beliefs we hold about our superiority are hidden. Underneath our sad stories of victimhood is a gleeful experience of revenge for those we see as the victimizers. Therefore, we are called to look deeper at our motivations so we can recognize our purpose, which is to prove we are right about who we say we are, and separation is the truth. We affirm through our victimhood that others have made us the way we are, and they are responsible for our condition. Thus to be broken is a state of revenge for what they have done to us.
 
 Specialness is the reason behind all attacks. It is our secret vow to attack each other and thus maintain the separation. In this instance, the belief may be, "I am actually better than those people who think they are so superior." There is no one living in a body who does not have some form of specialness going on and sees their brothers as different from themselves. "And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality, and a need to judge that cannot be escaped." (T.24.I.3.6) (ACIM OE T.24.II.5) Because of the differences we see in our brothers and sisters, we judge and evaluate who they are in relation to us. We can only judge if we feel superior and know better because a judge will always be above that which he judges. Our specialness is a way of keeping reality at bay. The truth simply cannot intrude on what we have decided we are. It must be welcomed by us.
 
We value what we have made. In fact, there is nothing in the world we value more. It feels to us to be important in this world and to have value, so we fight for it and defend against any kind of criticism. We do whatever we can to have a high sense of self-esteem, but self-esteem will never substitute for the truth of who we are. We prop up our fragile egos, yet who we think we are is indeed a very shabby substitute for the truth of our Being.
 
Investing in our specialness is just another way of investing in our separate selves. There is a fear of leaving the familiar territory of our lives. Our lives may not be wonderful, but our circumstances and beliefs are what we know. What will happen to us when we leave the perception of the self as we know it? Our fear is of the unknown. What will happen to our lives and to our relationships? What will there be to talk about? Our current bonding with others is so much about sharing dramas and traumas. We seem to bond with each other through pain and struggles. We empathize with the mutuality of our personal suffering, but we can never truly join in the illusion. Our false empathy, by joining with anyone in their victim story, will never heal anyone.
 
To invite the truth is challenging because it requires a willingness to release the specialness of our separate identity, and we fear the outcome. That is part of the push-pull of awakening. Yet as our feelings of specialness fall away on this path, we begin to see our lives more like a story we have made up and a role we have taken on. The limits we have laid on ourselves and everyone around us lessen as we let the false go. We increasingly recognize that our brother, the Son our Father loves, was created limitless. Our investment in the dramas and the struggles of life have been loosened in the recognition that they are all illusory. We are coming to know who our brother is---limitless as we are.
 
Let's really look at our hidden beliefs and fears today, which are the core of all the dreams of this world. Unrecognized fear leads to projecting this world and seeing our fears in everyone around us. Our everyday pain and suffering become important experiences because they are the means whereby we can undo our deeply buried and repressed ego thoughts of sin, guilt, fear, and hate, which reflect the sum and substance of all of our difficulties. But so much of that is not conscious. Jesus tells us that these are the hidden warriors we must learn to see. In the Introduction to Chapter 21, he says that first, we have to look within. With our choice for the ego, a world of quasi-infinite combinations of problems and solutions arises. There is only one problem and one error, even though it seems to have taken many forms. As we read in Chapter 18, "That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it." (T.18.I.4.4-6) (ACIM OE T.18.II.4)
 
Now we have an opportunity to return to the only problem---the choice for separation over Oneness and guilt in place of love. These are the choices confronting us every day in this classroom. Ken Wapnick wrote that so many who get on the spiritual path really want to stay positive and focus on experiences of unity and love. Yet this can just be a further defense against looking at the way the mind has identified with guilt. Jesus cautions against this strong temptation to deny the ego by covering it over with spirituality and love in our special relationships. "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within, and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality." (T.16.IV.6.1‑6) (ACIM OE T.16.V.35)
 
After the ecstasy, there is still the laundry, as Jack Kornfield describes so well in his book by the same name, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path . In other words, we have work to do in undoing the darkness, regardless of how many states of enlightenment we may have experienced. Our mystical experiences are valuable in that they motivate us to do the work of undoing the ego thought system. Continuing to run after these experiences, hoping for more, is another way to distract ourselves from our work of staying attentive to the ego and doing the work of forgiveness. The effort is worth it and we are worth the effort.
 
"When you have learned how to decide with God, all decisions become as easy and as right as breathing. There is no effort, and you will be lead as gently as if you were being carried down a quiet path in summer. Only your own volition seems to make deciding hard. The Holy Spirit will not delay in answering your every question what to do. He knows. And He will tell you, and then do it for you. You who are tired will find this is more restful than sleep. For you can bring your guilt into sleeping, but not into this." (T.14.IV.6.1-8) (ACIM OE T.13.IX.92)

Love and blessings, Sarah

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